Fluoride Action Network

Louisiana Legislature’s dumb bill of the week fans fluoride fears: An editorial

Source: The Times-Picayune | April 19th, 2010 | By Editorial page staff

State Sen. Dan Claitor says that he’s not trying to prevent fluoridation of water supplies, but that’s likely to be the end result of a bill that creates burdensome new requirements for fluoridation projects.

Sen. Claitor told the Baton Rouge Advocate that he just wants people to be informed about whether fluoride is being introduced into their water. Senate Bill 638 requires public water systems to provide notice in water bills or through a separate mailing 60 days before adding fluoride.

If that was all the bill required, that would be fine. But Sen. Claitor’s bill attempts to tie fluoride to concerns about unsafe products from China. The bill says that any chemical or compound that’s been manufactured or packaged in China is deemed a public health hazard and prohibits its use in public water systems.

He’s raising a false fear. Alan Levine, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, points out that fluoride is heavy and costly to transport. Because of that, Louisiana water systems that fluoridate their water use chemicals manufactured in the United States.

But the bill could still hamper fluoridation. The federal government does not track the origins of fluoride, so the state would have to create its own tracking system. Secretary Levine said that would likely mean the state could not approve fluoridation projects.

That would be a shame. While some people oppose fluoridation because they fear ill health consequences, the practice is supported by groups like the American Dental Association because fluoride prevents tooth decay.

Giving people information so they can avoid fluoride if they choose is one thing. But this legislation makes an unjustified connection to concerns about Chinese products, and that’s nothing more than fear-mongering.

The truth is, people come into contact with products from China every single day, including toys that have lead and cadmium in them. That’s a much greater threat to public health, especially for children.

Tap water, on the other hand, is highly unlikely to pose such a risk. And if the water is fluoridated, drinking it can give you reason to smile.